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Biographical Review: Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York
Harmon Becker

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[This information is from pp. 20-22 of Biographical Review Volume XXXIII: Containing Life Sketches of Leading Citizens of Greene, Schoharie and Schenectady Counties, New York (Boston: Biographical Review Publishing Company, 1899). It is in the collection of the Grems-Doolittle Library of the Schenectady County Historical Society at 920 BIO.]

Harmon Becker, whose death occurred January 18, 1897, at the homestead in Cobleskill, N.Y., now occupied by Mrs. Becker and her daughters, was during his long life an esteemed citizen of this town and one of its successful farmers. He was born June 19, 1813, at Duanesburg, Schenectady County, and was a son of Nicholas Becker. He came from patriotic stock, both his paternal grandfather, Captain John Becker, and his maternal grandfather, John Ferguson, having fought as brave soldiers in the Revolutionary War, the former commanding a company of minute-men.

Nicholas Becker lived in Duanesburg some years after his marriage to Jean Ferguson of Edinburgh, Scotland; but in 1823 he came with his family to Cobleskill, and, taking up a tract of forest-covered land, began the laborious task of clearing a farm and establishing a home.

Harmon Becker was a lad of ten years when he came here with his parents. He assisted in the pioneer labor of reclaiming a farm from the forest, and, having subsequently succeeded to its ownership, was here industriously and prosperously engaged in general farming and sawmilling to the close of his life of eighty-three years. He was a stanch Democrat in his political affiliations for the greater part of his life, and served as Supervisor two terms and as School Inspector a number of years. In his last years he voted with the Prohibition party, believing strongly in the equal suffrage plank of its platform. A valued member of the Lutheran church, he held nearly all the offices connected with that organization, and for thirty-six consecutive years was superintendent of its Sunday-school.

On January 17, 1849, Mr. Becker married Miss Julia A. Myer, who was born in Barnerville, N.Y. Her father, Stephen Myer, was of Dutch extraction. The emigrant ancestor of the Myer family came to America from Holland in old Colonal times, and was one of the original settlers of Ulster County, in this State. Mrs. Becker's paternal grandfather, Peter L. Myer, was born and brought up in Saugerties, Ulster County. Removing thence to Schoharie County, he devoted his energies to tilling the soil. His death occurred at the venerable age of ninety-one years. He, too, served with honor in the Revolutionary War. Stephen Myer continued during his life in the occupation to which he was trained, and in addition to general farming carried on a substantial business as a miller, owning and operating both a saw-mill and a grist-mill. He lived to be eighty-one years of age. His wife, whose maiden name was Elizabeth Mowers, was born in Ulster County, a daughter of Jacob Mowers. Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Myer had four children, two of whom are still living, namely: Mrs. Becker; and her sister, Sally C., who is the wife of Charles Ryder. Mrs. Myer died at the age of eighty-one years. Both she and her husband were active members of the Lutheran church, in which he filled all the offices. He was also prominent in local affairs, and for a number of years served as Highway Commissioner.

Two children were born to Mr. and Mrs. Becker — Elizabeth Jean and Mary Isadore. Mrs. Becker and her daughters live on the home farm, which they have managed with success since Mr. Becker's death. They carry on general farming, using judgment in all matters pertaining to the care of their one hundred and seventy-five acres. A part of the land is devoted to grazing, and a part to the raising of wheat, corn, and hay. They also continue the saw-trill business. Mrs. Becker and the Misses Becker are faithful members of the Lutheran church, and also of the Woman's Christian Temperance Union.

The history of the Harmon Becker homestead is unique in that for fifty-six years no death occurred on the place, either of its owners or family, or of the men or maids employed by them during that time. The carefully-kept records show that more than ninety souls lived, either permanently or temporarily, on the farm during those years.

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